Vanessa Bryant remembers 'angels' Kobe and Gianna ahead of Lakers tribute game: 'There is no #24 without #2'
The pre-game tribute featured performances by Usher, cellist Ben Hong of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and an emotional speech by LeBron James.
Vanessa Bryant was missing her "angels" on Friday ahead of the Lakers' game at the Staples Centre. The widow of basketball player Kobe Bryant, who died in a horrific helicopter crash in California along with their daughter Gianna, 13, said, "There is no #24 without #2," adding alongside a photo of both Gianna's and Jobe's jerseys with roses in front of them, “❤️#GirlDaddy #DaddysGirl #MyBabies ❤️❤️ #OurAngels"
The game was a tribute to the former Lakers star and featured performances by Usher, cellist Ben Hong of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and an emotional speech by LeBron James. Just days earlier, Vanessa broke her silence after the tragedy.
Vanessa said in a lengthy statement, "There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now. I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved. We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon," she said, adding alongside a photo of her beautiful family, "I’m not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it’s impossible to imagine life without them."
She continued, "But we wake up each day, trying to keep pushing because Kobe, and our baby girl, Gigi, are shining on us to light the way. Our love for them is endless — and that’s to say, immeasurable. I just wish I could hug them, kiss them and bless them. Have them here with us, forever. Thank you for sharing your joy, your grief and your support with us. We ask that you grant us the respect and privacy we will need to navigate this new reality."
The crash on January 26 killed seven others apart from Kobe and his daughter - John Altobelli, 56, his wife Keri Altobelli, 46, their daughter Alyssa Altobelli, 14; Christina Mauser, 38; Sarah Chester, 45, her daughter Payton Chester, 13; and pilot Ara Zobayan, 50. All nine victims succumbed to "blunt trauma," Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner said and were ruled accidental. They had been heading to a game when the crash took place.